Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Book Review #2: "Mastering Tatting"

Since nobody seemed to mind my first book review, I've decided to continue to manufacture them. If nothing else, it legitimizes my owning so many books!! :)

Today I've decided to review a book I seem to return to over and over, "Mastering Tatting" by Lindsay Rogers. I actually have 5 of Rogers' books ("Mastering Tatting," "Tatting Collage," "Tatting for Special Occasions: Edgings", "Tatting Miscellany", and "Tatting for Special Occasions: Flowers" Also, I'm still looking for a copy of "Tatting for Special Occasions: Mats", if anyone out there has a copy they'd like to pass along for a reasonable price or swap for a Russian book or two!) 

It's a relatively new book in the tatting world, and, I think, the best of Rogers' books so far. The patterns are relevant, the directions clear and concise, and the possibilities suggested are seemingly endless...

Title: "Mastering Tatting: Advanced Designs Using Basic Techniques"
Author: Lindsay Rogers
Year of Publication: 2013
ISBN: 978-1-86108-950-2
Number of pages: 111
Number of patterns: 15 (Well, the table of contents lists just 15 patterns, but almost every named pattern either a) incorporates multiple motifs/elements that can be uses on their own [ie: rows of doilies made of motifs or edgings] or b) multiple uses of the same pattern [ie: taking an edging and making it into a variety of bookmarks, motifs or mats]. Some of the patterns have both a and b!) The variety of ways to use the various patterns shown and suggested are astounding and, perhaps, a bit overwhelming (but in a good way, I assure you!) This book is so well organized; even though the same pattern is "repeated" in various ways over a series of pages, the way each representation is presented makes it feel like an individual and new pattern. There are even suggestions of "Further ideas" not already included in the set of patterns...It's lovely!

Here is the same pattern used as motif and edging/last row on a doily

Type of pattern notation: Long notation with abbreviations (ie: Ring - 5ds, P(J), [2 ds, p] x 4, 5ds) and labeled diagrams that correspond with the long notation descriptions. Most patterns cannot be tatted from the diagrams alone.
Types of patterns: Again, so many of the basic patterns are "re-used" in so many different ways it's kind of hard to describe all the types of patterns in this book! For example, the last pattern of the book "Millennium" is presented as a mat, an edging (with corner!), a second edging AND (bonus!) a cross-stitch design! Another pattern, "Rose and Thistle," is at once a mat (doily), two different motifs, an edging and suggestions for two types of bookmarks! 
Rose and Thistle Doily (Above) / Motifs (Right)

Almost the only type of pattern you won't find in this book is jewelry, but if you really wanted to, you could probably quite easily adapt some of the patterns into necklaces or collars.**
**Note: Some of the patterns do seem to be repeats of patterns she has used in her other books, but don't let that stop you from getting this one, as well. The variety offered here is worth the price of admission.
Illustrations: Color photos, black and white diagrams
Notions: All but one of the patterns are shown in the book worked in size 20 cotton thread (the one being made with linen thread). I have worked these patterns mostly in sizes 30 and 80, and have had no problems with the patterns not lending themselves to the smaller threads. Several of the designs are accented with ribbon, and there is the cross-stitch design at the end. Some of the bookmarks are made with just tatting (and/or a ribbon addition) but some are shown with motifs appliquéd to a bookmark-sized piece of fabric. The edgings included are shown attached to both square and round cloth. A series of Christmas decorations are shown using beads (although I haven't added any in my own versions below.)
(Christmas Decoration) Motif A

(Christmas Decoration) Motif E

(Christmas Decoration) Motif D
(Christmas Decoration) Motif B
Other inclusions: The book starts out with short (2-page) introduction explaining the author's theme "to show how the novice tatter can progress from the simplest of edgings through to more complex projects such as bookmarks and heirloom mats" (pg 6). It goes on to discuss threads and shuttles, then six pages of techniques (how-to-tat) including beginner directions (words and illustrations) for Making a knot, Using a shuttle, Making a chain, Making a join, and then a section for to "Test your skills" by Making a bookmark and Making patterns with two shuttles. Next a series of Handy Hints for some of the elements used in the patterns (working with two shuttles, fraying picots, Core Thread Joins (CTJ) and Split rings) are given and illustrated. Finally, a suggestion for keeping control of the ball of thread and a list of abbreviations finish the beginning part of the book. In addition, inserts for Further Ideas and (really useful!) Tips are scattered throughout the book.
Shuttle or needle? The book is written for the shuttle tatter, and although I haven't pulled out the needle to work any of the patterns, I think a reasonably-pleasing outcome could be had with the needle, especially for an experienced tatter. I think any novice would find most of these patterns challenging, and I think a needle-only tatter will struggle even more than a shuttle tatter.
This motif took me more than one try to successfully complete!
Skill level: Intermediate Even though the title says the techniques used in the book are "basic," I think a person newly new to tatting would struggle with many of the patterns in this book. For one thing, almost all the patterns are shown in two colors, and many use techniques beyond a simple ring and chain. Also, if you're not familiar with the longer type of pattern notation and rely heavily on diagrams, this book might be a challenge. I had to write in a few joins on some of the diagrams to stop myself from forgetting when to make them. Finally, at times the author seems to assume the tatter knows to execute a particular technique that has not been thoroughly explained or introduced previously at all (as when the shoelace trick (SLT) is needed to successfully complete the cloverleaf-and-thistle edging below):

Skills needed: Two-color tatting, two-shuttle tatting*, SLT, CTJ*, Split ring tatting,* applique, fraying picots*, using a picot gauge*, attaching tatting to cloth, lock joins, adding beads, twisting picots (*short tutorial included in book) 
Availability: Because the book is so new, it is readily available online both in the US: (Handy Hands, Amazon) and the UK (Amazon, Tatting and Design). I have seen it in at least one (locally-owned) crafting store in the US as well.
Price range: Between $12 and 25 (US Dollars)
Personal Notes: If you can't tell, I really do like this book! It has so many ideas and pattern iterations, it's one of those books that, every time you look at it, you see something new that you want to tat. Each of the fifteen patterns is so different that, whatever you're in the mood for, you can probably find something to tat in this book, and that something will probably be a pleasant challenge. 


  1. Oh wow it is absolutely beautiful and love the colors you chose, I have this book and couldn't picture any other colors than what she did them in, but now that I see yours it is great maybe better color choice love it! And I don't recall any of those christmas decorations wow I got to go thumb through this book again!

    1. Thank you very much. I too find it hard to break away from the color shown in the books...it's something I conciously do sometimes, and other times I can't imagine anything but what the pattern shows :) Enjoy your second look, I'm sure you'll be inspired! :)

  2. Love your book reviews. I especially like seeing the patterns you've tatted from the books. I get all my tatting books online and it's hard to select a book if you can't leaf through it. Keep 'em coming.

    1. Hooray, thanks! I do enjoy writing them, and it's nice to see when they are helpful. Do you have any requests for books to review?

  3. What a great book review, I don't have this book, but certainly one to think about buying, I love the thistle pattern and used on the doily very different.

    1. Thanks Margaret! I'm certainly not trying to drum up business for any of the books I review, just putting information out there, but this is a really good book! The thistle pattern is one of my favorites, but there are so many patterns in the book I am itching to try! :)

  4. You should've been in marketing, Kristen, ( may be you Are ;-) ) ! After reading this review, seeing the images (couldn't see all of them, though), and enjoying your tatted versions, I immediately checked it out on amazon.in and it has gone into my next-to-buy list ( I'm still waiting for 2 books I ordered almost 10 days back which haven't yet been dispatched due to festival rush :-( .
    Thanks for this very inspiring & detailed post :-)

    1. Tee hee, thanks for the complement. I suppose in a way I am in marketing--I market history to middle schoolers! (I'm a teacher!)

      I'm so sorry you couldn't see all of the images! I don't have that problem on my mac, but when I log onto the PC at work sometimes I can't see some of the images, either. I haven't really looked into the reason for this, but knowing other people are having the issue, I'll see what I can do.

      I hope all your ordered books come very soon!! :)

    2. Teachers are the best ! (says one to the other ;-).

      Kristen, the image problem has nothing to do with your blog. Most times I can't even see all the pis in my own post, the next day ! And just now, ALL pics from my blog have gone AWOL - never happened before and it was scary. Checked my blogger, and phew, everything is intact.
      When I use Opera (on my compy), all images, in all sites, are generally visible. Chrome & Firefox are a bit finicky.
      So, I'll come back to your post when I log on thru my desktop :-)

    3. Teachers of the world unite!! :)

      While I am still sorry you can't see the pictures always, I have to admit I am happy that it's not "my fault," as I wasn't sure what I could do about it anyway!! :)

      There should be another review out this weekend, I think... with more pictures, of course :)

  5. Terrific review with beautiful examples.

  6. Brilliant job on the rose and thistle mat! I want the book to complete that myself one day.

    This was a GREAT review. Thanks!